Does Your Senior Dog Need Anti-Slip Paw Pads?
If you share your heart and your home with a senior dog, then you know that with age can come some significant changes. Your once highly energetic dog may slow down, sleep more, or experience mobility challenges. In their golden years, dogs often struggle to navigate stairs, get up on furniture (like the couch or bed), or safely walk across slippery flooring.
It can be hard to witness these changes, but you can still provide your beloved dog with an incredible quality of life. By understanding the unique struggles faced by senior dogs, you can take steps to make their lives a little easier and more comfortable.
In this post, we will discuss why your dog may be slipping more when walking through your home, the options available to reduce this slipping, and which option I use with my 15-year-old German Shepherd mix, Daviana.
Let’s get started!
Why do Senior Dogs Need Traction?
Before digging into the steps you can take to keep your dog comfortable, let’s take a step back and discuss why your dog is experiencing these changes. Like people, dogs are at a higher risk of injuries from slips and falls. This is due to changes in their balance and mobility as well as the fact that their bodies are more delicate and easily injured. A fall that a resilient puppy or healthy adult dog could shake off may cause severe damage.
Medical explanations for a senior dog’s change in mobility include:
- Joint Pain or Injury: Arthritis is a common condition among senior dogs (like humans), making it painful and more challenging for your dog to move as they once did. This can cause limping or an uneven gait, throwing off their center of balance.
- Loss of Muscle Mass: As dogs age, they often face muscle atrophy. This is the weakening or loss of your dog’s muscles. In senior dogs, this is common in the back legs, leading to weakness that can cause unsteadiness or falling.
- Vestibular Disease: While this doesn’t directly affect your dog’s muscles, vestibular disease is characterized by dizziness, stumbling, loss of balance, or falling over.
- Spinal Disease: Some dog breeds, including Corgis and Dachshunds, are considered high risk for spinal or disc disease. This can significantly impact your dog’s mobility and even cause loss of regular back leg functionality. Spondylosis is also a common spinal condition in larger senior dogs.
- Cognitive Dysfunction: Often compared to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction refers to the decline in cognitive function that dogs experience as they get older. This can leave them feeling unsure, confused, or disoriented, which increases the risk of slips and falls.
How Do I Make My Old Dog’s Paws Less Slippery?
There are several solutions to help your senior dog gain a little added traction, ranging from simple tasks like maintaining your dog’s nails to outfitting the whole space with anti-slip mats.
Here are some options to consider when adjusting your home and lifestyle to suit your aging pup’s needs:
Give Your Pup a Manicure
One of the most important things you can do for your dog is keep up with their grooming. This includes keeping their nails cut to a safe length and trimming back any long fur on the bottom of their paws that could cause slipping. If your dog’s nails are too long, they impact how your dog’s paw connects with the floor, making them unstable. It also prevents them from gripping with their nails as they do naturally. Meanwhile, long fur on the bottom of their paws can act like a pair of slippers, causing their paws to slide easily on slippery surfaces.
Use Rugs, Mats, and Carpet Runners in Your Home
Hardwood, tile, and laminate flooring are more challenging for a senior dog to navigate because they create a slippery surface for your dog to navigate. If you have any of these flooring types in the areas of your home that your dog frequents most often, you can create a “safe path” for them to travel. To do this, use throw rugs, mats, or carpet runners to cover the floor and provide added traction.
Limit Access to High-Risk Areas
In addition to using rugs for better traction, you may want to seriously consider what areas of the home your dog has access to. For example, a senior dog travelling up and down the stairs has a much higher risk of injury. You can limit what parts of the home your dog is moving by using safety gates or closing doors. Try to set up key areas like their food/water dishes or bed in rooms that don’t require moving through a high-risk space.
Consider a Joint Care Supplement
Many great natural supplements are available to support better joint and muscle health in your aging dog. These products often contain ingredients like Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Supplements can be purchased in many forms depending on your dog's preferences, including chews, powders, and liquids.
Have Your Dog Wear Grippy Socks or Booties
Is your dog open to wearing socks or booties? If so, you may be interested in creating a routine where you start each day by getting your dog “dressed.” Ensure that you are choosing products with a non-slip bottom. However, if you live somewhere that experiences very high temperatures, your dog may not be comfortable wearing socks all day.
Try Anti-Slip Paw Pads or Toe Grips
Recognizing the unique needs of senior dogs, some companies have designed products that will provide added traction without the bulk of wearing booties. Anti-slip paw pads are small strips of material with an adhesive on the back that stick directly to your dog’s paws. A non-slip texture on the bottom of each pad helps your dog’s paws grip the floor when they
Our Chosen Solution: Aquamax Dog Anti-Slip Paw Grips
Over the last few years, we have experimented with many of the options listed above. We currently use a combination of the options above, including:
- Limiting her access to stairs
- Placing rugs around the house
- Using mobility and joint care supplements
- Outfitting her with anti-slip paw pads
We do own and have tried other traction products like socks and booties. However, we have found that using pads for her paws is the best option to suit our lifestyle. More specifically, we use Aquamax Dog Anti-Slip Paw Grips. These black stickers (also available in pink or blue) can be placed as-is onto their paws or cut to be placed on each paw pad individually.
The traction pads are available in a variety of sizes from Small to XXX-Large. Selecting the right size is essential to ensure that they will connect with the paw pads properly, allowing them to offer traction as your dog walks. They are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and breathable for maximum comfort.
- Ideal option for dogs that aren’t comfortable wearing footwear
- Easy “sticker-like” application
- Can be worn both inside and outside without needing to make any changes
- May fall off before your planned replacement date, requiring pet owners to be observant
- Not a good choice for dogs that aren’t comfortable with their paws being handled
- Dogs that tend to eat things they shouldn’t may ingest pads after they fall off
The most important thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While many dog parents have great experiences with paw grips for senior dogs, there are some situations where they won’t be the ideal choice. For example, if your dog is uncomfortable having their paws handled, putting these pads may add more stress than they are worth. I encourage you to evaluate your dog’s needs and experiment with the options above until you find the right choice (or combination).
Caring for a senior dog isn’t always easy. It can be heartbreaking seeing your best friend start to show their age. They give us love, affection, and unwavering loyalty throughout their lives – and this is our time to step in and provide for them. Every cuddle, doggy kiss, and moment spent together will be worth the effort!
Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.
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